I've been using my "nifty fifty" (aka "plastic fantastic") Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens almost exclusively since I got it a couple months ago. It was cheap, at $100, and it's been a blast to use. The wide aperture means I can take shots without needing the flash, with a strong bokeh (blurred background with foreground in sharp focus). It really hit me just how awesome this lens is, when I dragged the camera out trick-or-treating with Evan last night. Lots of other parents brought cameras - it's a natural thing to do. Many even had DSLRs with fancy schmancy lenses. But they ALL were firing the flash. Completely blowing away the spooky halloween ambiance, replacing it with brightly lit subjects with harsh shadows. Ick.
Here's a shot I took just down the street, at a neighbour's house that was tricked out as a haunted house.
The flash would have completely killed the effect, destroying the shadows and blowing away the colours in the background.
All of these shots were taken hand-held, with no tripod, monopod, or additional lighting.
The fixed 50mm focal length takes some getting used to, since you have to zoom with your feet, but I find it makes me more mindful of the shot I want to take because I have to think ahead. And, most of the time, the longer-than-normal 50mm gets me a much nicer and closer shot, and compresses distance nicely (something that gets exaggerated with a zoom lens and shorter focal lengths).
Anyway, just a quick rave about the awesome 50mm f/1.8 lens. If you have a DSLR (any make, any model), run out and get one. It's by FAR the best bang for the buck, and the fast f/1.8 aperture is awesome and addictive.